The popular town of Aups is considered the “gateway” to the Verdon Regional Natural Park and the stunning Gorges du Verdon, Europe’s largest canyon and home to the lake - Lac de Saint Croix. This is one of Frances largest lakes, popular for water sports and its numerous beach areas. In addition there are many more smaller lakes with activities to be enjoyed in the area.
Aups sits in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France, conveniently located in between vineyards and the mountains. For lovers of the south coast, the likes of Frejus, Saint Maxime, Saint Raphael, Port/beach Grimaud are just over an hours’ drive. Or avoid the crowds of the south coast and enjoy the tranquility of the lakes and hilltop villages, with plenty of space to unwind on holiday.
Aups is also listed by Var Tourisme as one of 14 Character villages, “Villages de Caractere”. Chosen for their incredible charm such as picturesque alleys, bell towers, fountains and vibrant village markets, which in their words, “exude the essence of the good life”. What better place to stay!
The number of sporting activities to enjoy in the area seems endless. Most popular are lake and gorge swimming, road and mountain biking, e-biking (hire shop in the village), hiking and gentle walks, kayaks and canoes, canyoning, white water rafting, electric boats, stand up paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing, tennis, adventure parks, and horse riding. There really is something for everyone.
Aups’ large Provencal market is not to be missed, held every Wednesday and Saturday morning throughout the year, it attracts visitors from afar, plus the truffle market which is one of the largest in France is held each Thursday during the winter.
For those looking for cultural activities, The Simon Segal Museum of Contemporary Art located in the former convent, exhibits more than 280 paintings, plus hosts exhibitions of paintings and sculptures each summer. Also found in Aups is the Maison de la Truffe, located at the Tourist Office, it is dedicated to the terroir of Haut-Var. An interactive, and educational visit to discover the world of the Truffle, its history and its flavors. In addition, just outside Aups towards Tourtour is the museum Faykod, where 50 white marble sculptures by Maria de Faykod, a locally renowned sculptor with has opened a garden exhibiting some of her work to the public.
For keen road bikers, there are some fantastic circuits from The Barrages du Verdon (Dams of the Verdon), 65km and 796m vertical, to the Plateau de Valensole through the lavender fields at 53KM and 515m. A great resource is the Velo Loisure Provence website in English and French.
During the summer and throughout the year, many events are arranged by the tourist office, to include the rosé festival, Jazz concerts, live music, brocantes and fairs.
A day can be spent simply exploring the village of Aups and taking in the wonderful atmosphere. It is well worth taking the time to stroll through the picturesque old streets of the village. You can admire the medieval houses, sundials and towers, old fountains, narrow streets and hidden little squares. Aups is totally unspoilt, a walled town, traffic free with cobbled streets, still with ramparts and 12th century ruins to explore.
There are around 15 restaurants to choose from in Aups alone. Our favorites are Hotel de la Tour for its stunning Provencal gardens and Saint Marc for amazing meat and fish dishes. For pizzas Chez Jenny is hard to beat. A few of the Hotels have great menus such as The Provencal with its pretty terraces. Plus there are a range of other friendly restaurants and cafes in the old squares offering a good selection of food. Still on the subject of food, there is a large Intermarche supermarket just outside the village and in the centre a few bakeries, delicatessens, plus a small supermarket.
If you make it to the market, you can buy fabulous fresh fruit and vegetables, plus many regional dishes from the traiteurs and other fresh produce. For delivery and take-away there are a few options available also in Aups.
Venturing outside Aups, there are many trips not to miss. Along the northside of Lac de Sainte Croix heading towards Valensole are miles and miles of lavender fields which attract people from all over the world, best seen from mid-June to mid -July. There are many local vineyards to visit in the area for winetasting and discovering some of France’s best rosés. Many in the area are smaller family run vineyards and some are more world renowned, with restaurants open to the public such as Chateau du Berne near Lorgues. This venue also offers free access to stunning cycle routes and walking routes around the vineyards.
The area is filled with numerous pretty hilltop towns and villages which are well worth a visit. To name a few, we have Cotignac, a town nestled at the foot of a 80-metre high cliff, Villecroze with its narrow streets and tour of the caves, Tourtour with its pretty shops and incredible sunsets and 360 views, Moustieres Saint Marie at the lakeside, built into a cliff and awarded one of Frances prettiest villages.
We have tried to include as much information into our welcome information at the house, plus include plenty of maps for bikers and hikers, and other tourist leaflets. We would also recommend the tourist office in the centre of Aups and the various area websites, to be sure you get the best out of this stunning area as there really is so much to do and see!
Visit the official website of Lacs et Gorges du Verdon Tourism for more information.